Page images

(Dr. Bird) differed from them also. The causes of the excessive mortality were heat, moisture, and localities. The Station Reports showed that; although vice and intemperance had their effect. The colonel seemed to think that the rate of mortality in India was 67.9. He had shown that in the last twenty-six years it had scarcely exceeded 44, and in the last five years it had not exceeded 35. He dissented from the colonel's opinion as to the excellence of the barracks. The great mortality was increased by ill-ventilated barracks, and the filthy cesspools in the midst of them. He believed the proper remedial measures applied to them would cause life to be preserved in India as well as in any other country. He held that the respiratory functions of the human body could be acclimatized to a warm region; but it was impossible to acclimatize any human body to miasmata ; and he fully believed that, in order to lessen the mortality of the troops in India, it would be necessary to lay a good foundation for the barracks, and attend to their arrangements as carefully as those of workhouses and hospitals in this country were made.

Dr. JAMES HUNT entirely disagreed with Dr. Bird on the subject of acclimatization. There was a physiological change produced ; but it was not acclimatization, but the gradual production of disease. With regard to the fact of the mortality being chiefly put down to intemperance and immorality, he must say he could find no evidence of that. It was certain that in such climates as that of India, it was necessary for European inhabitants to take stimulants; the defence of teetotalism for India was objectionable. He held that there should be a judicious selection of men suited to hot climates; they could not preserve every one in health there. As for attempting to rear the children of European parents, the system was utterly false. Throughout the whole of Bengal, there was not the third generation of Europeans; the mortality among children was excessive, and, in fact, it was utterly impossible to rear children. His conclusion was, that the only way to cause a decrease of mortality among the troops, would be the selection of men suitable for the climate. By a study of temperaments and other peculiarities, it was possible to predict with a degree of certainty, which he found most surprising, what would be the influence of climate on different temperaments.

Colonel SYKES defended the Commission from the statements of Dr. Bird. For their reports they had the authority of a very great number of witnesses, and there could be no impeachment of the integrity of its members. Where great heat and moisture existed, disease prevailed ; but he found that where great heat prevailed along with dryness, it was not detrimental to the health of the men. The great evil of the whole system, was the employment of European troops in such numbers without real necessity, thus causing an enormous amount of misery amongst the families of the labouring poor in England. That was what most of all he deplored. A very great deal of expense had been incurred in barrack accommodation; and he was still of opinion that vice and intemperance were fruitful sources of disease. After considering what we had lost, the question for them was, what were we likely to lose in the future? At all events, we should preserve our power in India with the very smallest possible number of English troops; and he should even be inclined for us to run some risk for the sake of humanity, and for the preservation of the youthful blood and sinew of the country.

Dr. Hancock was of opinion that vice was a great source of the disease in India, but that was created in a great measure by the restrictions on marriage. The climate was not the cause. The arbitrary restrictions on the marriage of the men deprived them alike of friends and family, and they were driven to the vices which ultimately brought them to the hospitals.

Colonel BAKER thought that the conclusion drawn from the papers before them, that the average 67.9 per thousand was the true average of the mortality of troops in India, was erroneous. He maintained that the sanitary measures of the Government in India had been very effective, and had reduced the average mortality in time of peace.

Instinctive Actions. Dr. WM. MURRAY (D a) endeavoured to demonstrate the part which each of the sources of nervous power plays in generating those effects, which, in the aggregate, make up an instinctive act or set of actions. The author thought that the instinctive movements of animals, and their nerves or physical construction, do not differ from those of man in kind, but in degree. In man the volitional, as representing reason, abstract deduction, and experience, is immensely superior to the others. As we descend in the social scale, we find the emotional, as the originator of the purely and really instinctive movements, become more prominent, and generally carrying the will with it, for we very seldom see an animal going contrary to his instincts. Lower still in the scale, we find all the arts necessary to the life of the animal left to the care and control of reflex action. Was there, then, he asked, in animals an intelligence? And his reply was- -We strongly incline to the belief that there is, and that it varies in its power with the kind of animal, and manifests its existence by the extent to which it controls the emotional or purely instinctive part of his actions.

Dr. B. W. RICHARDSON rejoiced that the time had come when the convictions of men of science could be freely expressed, and when they dared to assert that there was nothing in man that might not be understood. Physiologists ought not to admit that there was any hidden vital force or mysterious entity in man which could not be comprehended or explained. For his own part, he would go still further than Dr. Murray had gone, and assert every influence upon man to be from without. Men were moved and controlled by the eternal universe alone; and a Shakespeare himself, in grandest poetic effort, was but giving up through his hands that which he had received and concentrated from the universe around him.

On Life in the Atmosphere. By JAMES Samuelson, Esq. (D a.)

origja than the open the problemanied the

No subject in natural history, he remarked, except the allied one, the origin of species, had of late excited greater interest in the scientific world than the origin of the lowest types of living beings on the globe; and although the problem was far from being solved, yet, the investigations that had accompanied the discussion had already served the useful purpose of throwing new light on the anatomy and life history of the mysterious little forms of which it treated. It was rather with the latter object, than in the expectation of being able to assist in the solution of the general question, that he ventured to lay before the association the results of investigations recently made. He had, for example, taken rags imported from various countries, and shaken the dust from them into distilled water, which he then exposed to the atmosphere; and, after describing generally the character of the living forms he had discovered in this pure water, he stated in detail the forms of life found in each kind of dust, and among these were some new species of rhizopoda and infusoria, and an interesting ciliated worm-shaped form, which he believed to be a. collection of the larvæ of some other infusoria. The general results of the microscropical examination of these fluids between the 27th of July and 15 of August was as follows:--in the dust of Egypt, Japan, Melbourne, and Trieste, life was the most abundant, and the development of the different forms was rapid. In conclusion, he observed that if he was correct in supposing the germs of the living forms that he had described to be present in the dust conveyed by the atmosphere, and in distilled water, it was worthy of notice that these germs retain vitality for a long period, one of which he could not pretend to define the limit. In his experience they outlived the heat of a tropical sun, and the dryness of a warm room during the whole winter; but in Dr. Pouchet's case they retained their life 2,000 years, for he obtained his from the interior of the pyramids of Egypt, and then survived an oil of 400 degrees of heat. Mr. Samuelson endeavoured to disprove the theory of spontaneous generation. He suggested whether the great rapidity with which these germs are multiplied might not account for the spread of epidemic diseases. He did not profess to have any acquaintance with such diseases; but might it not be desirable to subject the atmosphere of hospitals to the microscopic test ?

Dr. ROLLESTON attempted to ridicule the notion of spontaneous generation which certain French writers had propounded and endeavoured to defend.

Dr. B. W. RICHARDSON believed it might yet be discovered that

certain diseases of an epidemic nature were produced by the infusoria of the atmosphere as suggested by Mr. Samuelson, and thought that the best way of arriving at some conclusion upon the subject would be by first removing all those diseases which all agreed could not possibly be so engendered, and testing the remainder. There would not be much difficulty in this, because all our known diseases did not exceed 279; and of these there were not more than ten or twelve not already accounted for. Many facts had been related confirmatory of the opinion that epidemic diseases were sometimes produced by inhaling dust filled with living creatures. On one occasion, for instance, three men were thrashing in a barn. In turning over a truss of straw some dust rose in their faces, and caused a slight irritation in the nose and throat. They thought nothing of it, however, but presently one of them said he felt cold, then another, and then the third; then one felt sick, and in the course of an hour they were all unwell, and on the following day all three were seized with erysipelas. Dr. Sailsby had recently made several experiments of this order. Some men were handling a tree covered with a fungus, when they were seized with symptoms resembling measles. The doctor first inoculated himself and then his children with the virus, and like results followed; they had the measles, or something very similar. The same facts had been observed by Dr. M‘Donald, who had learnt of a case in which measles were produced in a boy by some slightly decomposed linseed meal having been thrown in his face. He strongly advised that the subject should be duly investigated.

Influence of high altitudes on man. (A.)-Mr. GLAISHER gave some account of the curious changes in colour that he and Mr. Coxwell experienced in ascending, and remarked that they could now go a mile higher without turning quite so blue as before.

Professor OWEN said he had attended the section chiefly in the hope of hearing from Mr. Glaisher something of the influences of these very high distances on the human frame, which was adapted, of course, to a very different medium. The fact which Mr. Ĝlaisher mentioned as to his feeling a greater power of resisting the influence of very high temperatures was very interesting in physiology, and in relation to the series of facts with which they were acquainted. They knew their lungs did adapt themselves to atmospheres of different degrees of gravity, so that there were people who lived habitually on high mountains and felt no difficulty in breathing such as was felt at once when the inhabitant of a plain or low country came up to these elevations. Now, that depended upon the greater proportion of the minute cells of the lungs which are open and receive an attenuated atmosphere, in proportion to the minute cells that are occupied by a quantity of mucus. Those on the plain did not make so large a use of their breathing apparatus as those who lived at great altitudes. Hence more cells, occupied by mucus, would be taken up, and opened to free course and play; and he had no doubt that was the solution of the interesting fact mentioned by Mr. Glaisher. Physiolo. gists were all agreed that one condition of longevity was the capacity of the chest, and therefore he hoped the increased breathing capacity acquired by Messrs. Glaisher and Coxwell would tend to the prolongation of their lives.

Mr. GLAISHER, alluding to what had fallen from Professor Owen, remarked that the adaptation of nature was certainly something wonderful. He had been in a position, anxious to remain, and though not a second was allowed him, he looked down, around, above, everywhere in a momentary glance, and everything became fixed on the retina with such ten-fold impressions that there were many of these scenes he could call to mind now, and could (if he were able to draw) reproduce them on paper. One sensation he found was that his arms were forced back and more air was taken into the chest. The eyes were clear, the brain active, and the powers increased according to the exigencies of the case.

On the aboriginal occupations of North Tynedale and Western Northumberlandan illustration of the social life of the Celts. By Rev. G. R. Hall. The present brief account embodies the results of recent researches connected with the aboriginal settlements of the western parts of Northumberland. The subject is one of more than local interest, as the ancient remains are concluded, with good reason, to be those of the earliest race of men who inhabited these islands, of whose social condition any trustworthy vestiges remain.

These dalesmen and mountaineers of a prehistoric Northumbria gave those names to hills and streams which are still current in the county. Its chief river-the Tyne—was so called long before the vanguard of the victorious Roman legions set foot upon its northern bank, or built the walls of Pons Ælii, on whose site this important town of Newcastle now stands. The name of the Tyne is usually derived from the ancient British word tyn, that is, the double river, in allusion to the two branches called the North and South Tyne, which form it.

The former branch, the North Tyne, is the larger of the two, both as to volume, and the distances from its sources in the recesses of the Cheviot range of mountains to its confluence with the sister-stream of the South Tyne. North Tynedale is about forty miles in length; and the area embraced in this notice of it, including the districts drained by its tributaries, is over three hundred square miles.

A few notes on the aboriginal occupation of North Tynedale, derived from personal research during the past and the present year, may not be devoid of interest in connection with the Geographical and Ethnological sections of the British Association.

Two kinds of ancient British caerau, or fortified towns, may be

« PreviousContinue »